View Full Version : Amazon Sword - Iron Deficiency, Diatoms, or something else?

07-20-2008, 12:49 AM
So I've noticed over the past few days that my Swords have been getting these brown patches on them. I originally attributed them to a possible iron deficiency and started dosing the tank with an Iron supplement when I started doing my weekly water changes. I also added another 80watts of light (a 6500K 40Watt lamp and a 3100K 40Watt Plant lamp) in addition to the original 56 Watt Coralife dual T-5 plant/6700K lamp since I finally had the cash to buy more light.

Anyway, since a picture's worth a few grand in words, I'll just post up a pick and see what it looks like to you folks. Thanks!

Lady Hobbs
07-20-2008, 12:52 AM
Diatoms. I wipe it off my plants everyday! Finally is beginning to slow down some since adding a phosphate/silicate remover to the filter.

07-21-2008, 09:48 AM
Erg, I'd like not to add anything to my filter to help knock 'em out. I've read that increasing the amount of light in the tank will slow or stop the Diatoms. However I'm not sure how much more light I can give my tank, I'm already running the lights for 10 hours at a stretch and I have a something like 2.4 Watt/Gal. at this point combined. Should I start putting even more plants into this aquarium or change the lower color temps to 6000K+ lamps to boost the lumens? Heck, should I go to feeding every 3 days as opposed to every other day? (Should I go look in the Algae forums? ... probably) Thanks Lady!

Edit: Or I can just "wait it out" as is suggested in the Algae primer and see what happens....

07-21-2008, 10:33 AM
6700K bulbs are the lights you should use for maximum photosynthesis. If you run your lights 12 hours instead of 10, that will help with your diatom problem. How large is your aquarium by the way, and when was it established?


07-21-2008, 03:46 PM
Are ottos an option for your tank? They are great at eating algae (especially brown algae like you have) and won't bother plants.

07-21-2008, 04:18 PM
Hello W Oz,

I have the same problem. Same as Lady Hobbs, I wipe them off the plants regularly... I also decreased the feeding (though not to once every three days!) and I am keeping the lights on for 13-14 hrs. It seems like it is helping. I hear that the sooner you fix the problem, the better, because otherwise the diatoms become well established and then it is much harder to get rid of them....

07-21-2008, 05:36 PM
I've been adding plants to a new tank and have these damn diatoms, too.

I increased the natural light by leaving the blinds on the window across the room open more. I also picked up a small school of oto's over the weekend (they are neat fish, imho).

So far, these two steps have helped, fwiw.

07-21-2008, 06:00 PM
It's a 55gal tank that finished cycling up around 2 weeks ago. Right now for cleaning duties there are three very eager SAE's (or Siamese Flying Fox Algae Shark minnows as my LFS named them) who've been on duty since just before the tank finished cycling and a Rubber nose plec who seems mostly interested in hanging around on the rear glass of the tank most of the time. The SAEs are interesting, I watch them graze over the diatom patches all day long and they never seem to make a dent in them, weird.

I don't know that Oto cats will be an option at this point, between everyone else that's in the tank it's pretty much full and there's the "King of the Tank" Spotted Pim that will do predatory what cat fish do when there's a small enough fish in the tank.

Anywho, I'll set my timer for a 12 hour on cycle and head down to the old hardware store/LFS to pick up a couple more bulbs of the appropriate colorage. Wiping the leaves of the plants is a little more challenging than I'd thought it would be and I'll need to find my algae scraper (I haven't used it in years lol) to help clear up the glass.

Thanks for the input :thumb:

07-24-2008, 07:34 AM

I observed, for the first time mind you, "Bubs" the rubbernose Plec foraging on these diatom coated surfaces and (s)he's making great strides to get the tank clean again. Which is awesome because the SAE's don't really seem to be able to make a dent in the diatom colonies. lol

On another note, one of my swords is sending up a rather obnoxious flower/runner that's branching every 5" or so with 5 "nodes" on it so far. The thing just keeps getting longer (practically by the hour) and the nodes are budding off onto their own to form... I don't know what lol. Crazy.

07-24-2008, 07:37 AM
It's how they spread, Oz. They have daughter plants that spring from those nodes. If you don't want a tank full of sword plants, cut off the runner close as you can to the base of the plant with really sharp scissors.


Lady Hobbs
07-24-2008, 11:25 AM
I'm with you on this one Oz. Your tank is fairly new and diatoms are not uncommon in new tanks for a couple of months. My problem is just ongoing. Lights about the same as yours and on 12 hours a day. Dang. If my electric bill is going to be $100 a month, I'd at least like to see some decent looking plants out of the deal. The swords especially just stay a mess and these tanks (3 planted) are no longer even enjoyable to me. It's like Stress City!

07-24-2008, 11:41 AM
Remind me what your substrate is, Hobbsy, please.


07-24-2008, 04:06 PM
Dave: Thanks for the head's up, I was aware that's how they propagated, however this brings me to a question. Can I take the trimmed runner and associated daughter plants and plant them somewhere else? I wouldn't mind having the rear of the tank with the swords, which is kinda why I bought them I guess lol.

It's strange, but in my years of fish keeping I've never run into Diatoms before, though this is also the first time I've really taken a strong stab at a planted tank too. All in all it seems that through blind luck I've been largely successful in keeping fish, since when I started I didn't even really know the first thing about aquaria, just a couple sword tails in a tiny 2 gallon fish bowl with anacharis (sp?) tossed in every few weeks when it'd all been picked over.

Anyway, another little update:
What a difference a day can make... and the weekly water change and tank clean up too maybe. I was very surprised this morning when I got up and had a look in on the boys 'n girls and saw.... nothing... not a smudge of brown on the glass anywhere. The equipment in the back of the tank still has a fine dusting of brown, but the glass, which had a good coat and streaks on it where I missed with the scraper, and most of the leaves are without even the slightest indication that there was ever a diatom on them. The water's even close to "sparkling" again.... amazing, and I freely admit, I'm dumbfounded. That isn't to say that the problem's gone, but it is nice to see something I'd consider improvement.